England vs France tactics: Where World Cup 2022 quarter-final will be won and lost

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

It’s the pick of the World Cup quarter-finals and the last up on Saturday night.

World champions France taking on an England team capable of taking their crown.

How will it play out? Here’s England reporter Dan Kilpatrick with his thoughts...

Kylian Mbappe v Kyle Walker

Walker has dismissed the prospect of England setting up specifically to stop one man, but his box-office battle with Mbappe could well decide the outcome of the game.

Walker is one of the few defenders in the world capable of living with the pace of Mbappe. He oozes self-belief and produced a superb performance against the fleet-footed Frenchman in the Champions League last year, but is only just back fit after two months out, following groin surgery.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Is Southgate brave enough to stick with a back three?

Switching England’s formation could provide support for Walker, who played on the right of a back-three in the run to the 2018 World Cup semi-final and Euro 2020 Final.

Southgate has used a variation of 4-3-3 so far in Qatar and has suggested he is planning to stick with a back-four.

But adding a defender to the team and going to a back-three is an option to provide more protection against a front three of Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Olivier Giroud. An extra man at the back would also allow Walker to sweep up behind the defence and reduce the chances of Harry Maguire being exposed in a one-on-one against Mbappe.

But doing that would mean sacrificing a midfielder, most likely Jordan Henderson, and forcing Jude Bellingham to play a more disciplined game in a midfield two with Declan Rice. Southgate will be wary of putting the shackles on Bellingham, his most in-form player, and faces one of the biggest tactical decisions of his tenure.

Exploit France’s full-back weakness

France left-back Theo Hernandez is rarely, if ever, given defensive help by Mbappe, while Jules Kounde has looked shaky being played out of position at right-back.

It means France are vulnerable on the flanks and England will feel they can take full advantage. England are strong out wide, with Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden, and Luke Shaw could help target Kounde by linking up with Foden high up the pitch.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Transitions and Kane as the No10

One of England’s key strengths is Kane’s movement to drop deeper and release team-mates on the counter.

French midfielders Adrien Rabiot and Aurelien Tchouameni look easy to ruffle, and Kane could have joy by finding space between the lines and creating chances for Saka, Foden or Bellingham.

Antoine Griezmann also likes to drop deep to release Mbappe, but Rice and Bellingham have been brilliant so far at eliminating the threat on the counter.